How To Kill A Tree Stump: Solutions For Killing Tree Stumps And Making The Most Of Empty Areas

You finally got around to taking down that tree in your yard, but the stump isn’t getting the hint and is preventing you from utilizing the space.

You may think that the best way to get rid of tree stumps is by pulling them out, but this isn’t a long-term solution. To learn how to kill a stump for good, we’ve included simple and inexpensive techniques as well as costly ones, so no matter what your budget, you will know how to deal with your stump problems.

The Best Ways To Kill A Tree Stump

an old tree stump that is in the middle lane of the garden surrounded by tall trees

Some trees are not too sensitive to immediate deforestation. These trees will continue to grow for years after they have been leveled. Ashes, elms, poplars, and many other common decorative varieties will sprout for up to a decade or more after being chopped down.

Not only does a stump that tries to grow back after being cut off look unsightly, but it is also much more difficult to remove from the ground than one that has died and begun decomposing.

The most important part of removing a tree stump is cutting it down and preventing it from growing back. If the stump isn’t chopped off, there’s a potential risk to property, family members, and other buildings around you.

These chainsaws can make it easier to cut your stump if it already grew.

Use Chemicals To Kill Tree Stumps

top view of a tree stump drilled several holes for the chemical process to kill it

One effective way to kill tree stumps comes in the form of applying chemicals directly. However, this technique might take a few applications but can be one of the most practical ways to prevent them from growing back.

First, drill holes all over the trunk surface. Next, find a commercial tree stump killer and fill the holes with it accordingly.

When using chemicals to kill tree stumps, you should always read the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings. They may be hazardous to other nearby plants or animals.

I recommend taking broadleaf weed killers containing glyphosate. These are certainly effective for killing tree stumps in the yard. However, care needs to be taken not to spread the chemicals into neighboring trees and plants.

The use of a commercial tree stump remover will kill trees and plants in the surrounding area, meaning that you must replace any plants or trees that fall into those areas.

Safety is essential when dealing with chemicals. Chemicals can be hazardous to people, so it’s important to take proper safety precautions during the use and cleanup process for protection. I recommend wearing gloves, long sleeve shirts, and protective eyewear.

Be sure to buy a stump killer that’s best on the market. I highly suggest using it on old and rotting stumps.

There are products to remove freshly chopped trees. Apply them on the stump minutes after taking the tree down, so they can immediately penetrate any remaining roots and stem.

Apply A Stump-killing Herbicide

Are you planning to kill tree stumps? If so, use an herbicide that’s specially formulated for this purpose. The herbicide should be applied within 30 minutes of chopping the tree down or before removal services start removing the stump.

Spring is the right time to get rid of tree stumps in the yard. Herbicides come in two types: spray-on and brush-on. They not only kill stumps but also prevent them from growing back. Your first step should be reading the instructions before using them on your lawn or nonpaved surface.

These two kinds of stump-killing herbicides will not cause harm to the nearby plants, but they must be used properly. Additionally, their ingredients will move down the tree stump and then penetrate the roots to poison them.

If the stump has been eliminated and you still see youthful sprouts, apply herbicide to them. It is normal for roots that the herbicide has not reached to continue growing after application.

Someone might apply a non-selective herbicide. Non-selective herbicides can kill tree stumps if it comes into direct contact with them. Sometimes, the plants and trees in the area are dying off as well.

Herbicides should never be mishandled. They can not only cause harm to human health; they also can damage the soil and remain persistent after one application.

When sprouts appear, use herbicides or dig them out by hand. Cut off the growing buds below the soil line with scissors or pruning shears. Cover up the ground where they once were to block out light.

Successfully getting rid of the sprouts as they emerge will deplete the food reserves of the roots. This may take some time, but it will stop them from popping up.

Kill Tree Stump Naturally

top view of tree stump and manual saw in the yard

If you have plenty of time, it would be better to kill tree stumps without using chemicals. This allows for natural decomposition, and this process weakens the wooden surface. Some people choose a slower approach to killing stumps. If you are one of these people, try applying any of the following remedies; easy and inexpensive homemade methods which will work well on your stump.

Forced Darkness To Starve A Tree Stump

For those who want a natural, additive-free way to get rid of stumps, try this. Trees and the plants that grow from their stumps need light to photosynthesize. Turn out the lights on your stump by putting it under a tarp or covering it with plastic and adding a sufficient volume of organic material like wood chips, fallen leaves, or grass clippings.

First, cut the tree as close to ground level as you can. Next, cover all exposed roots with an organic waste tarp until over 12 inches of material are collected on top. Finally, pile more organic waste that has fallen off the tarp on top without burying any portions of the root zone and let it rot away.

Kill Tree Stump With Epsom Salt

close-up view of wooden spoon filled with epsom salt on wooden table

For a killer homemade tree stump killer, try the application of Epsom salt. You can find it at any pharmacy as sterile magnesium sulfate. Apply in large quantities, and within a month, the stump will be obliterated by osmosis.

First, drill some 1/4-inch holes about 3″ from the external side of the tree stump. Then, pour Epsom salt into them and add enough water to cover them. Next, space holes 1″ apart before filling with water and adding more Epsom salt.

After you’ve ground the stump, sprinkle some Epsom salt around it and cover it with a tarp. This will stop water from getting to the roots and spurting out more sap.

Apply A Saltwater Solution

Rock salt is a great product for removing unwanted tree stumps from the yard. The process takes about eight to ten weeks, so it’s much slower than Epsom salt.

Sodium chloride or rock salt kills the stump and can be harmful to plants.

High concentrations of the substance, when it is used, can dislocate the potassium and phosphorus that they need. This can cause death or deficiency.

Killing Tree Stumps With Copper Nails

To make copper nails kill trees, hammer in the copper nails at an angle close to the ground. Hammer them one inch apart around the tree and cover each nail with soil to give your copper nails the best chance of oxidizing.

The process of this will poison the stump, thus killing it. After that is complete, make sure to remove any remaining nails for safety reasons.

Utilizing Goats As Alternative Methods

Utilizing a goat is an effective way to kill tree stumps. Essentially, you will need to secure the goat near the stump to eat any new vegetation that pops up and lead it to die.

Techniques To Physically Remove A Tree Stump

It is possible to remove a tree stump using physical methods, but only if you have plenty of time and resources. Compared with home remedies, they are a lot quicker but require some heavy lifting and added expense on your part for tools.

Grinding The Tree Stump

a large machine for grinding tree stumps and extracting them from the ground

If you want to stop a tree stump from sprouting, then consider grinding it down. This can be expensive because the process takes 15 minutes to 2 hours or more; moreover, you can either do it yourself or hire a professional team.

Gas-powered stump grinders can cost a lot of money, up to $200 per day. To avoid being surprised by this expense, take it into account when planning your project.

You can remove tree stumps by grinding them down. If you’re not careful, this operation can be dangerous.

The stump grinder rental company will take the time to teach you how to use the tool, though it takes more time. However, it’s worth doing so as this may protect you from injuries that could occur with the improper procedure.

These tips will help you during the process of grinding your stump down.

Prepare Proper Ear Protection

If you plan on powering the grinder yourself, be sure to wear ear protection. The tool produces a deafening sound that might damage your hearing after prolonged periods of use.

Prepare Safety Glasses

When using a grinder to kill tree stumps, you should also wear eye protection. Safety glasses are crucial for protecting against debris from grinding when wood comes out of the stump.

Remove Rocks Near The Tree Stump

If there are rocks around the tree stump, remove them before grinding. The machine can turn the rocks into dangerous projectiles. Plus, this keeps them from damaging your equipment.

Prepare A Chainsaw

After cutting down the tree, chainsawing it into smaller pieces can make the grinder considerably easier to operate. Bringing the limb as close to ground level as possible will also help with this process because of its sloping angle.

Now it’s time to grind the tree stump. Use a hydraulic lever to raise the stump grinder above the level of the stump. Slowly lower it onto its surface for better leverage.

The stump grinder moves from one side to the other, distributing and clearing away all of the debris that it encounters. Once finished, return the machine to its original starting position. Then you can use topsoil to fill up any holes for a level lawn.

Dig a Tree Stump From the Ground

the process of taking a tree stump from the ground using an ax and a crowbar to dig

One way to remove tree stumps is to dig them out of the ground, but this process can take a lot of time and be harmful to your yard.

This method is effective in removing tree roots and ensuring the stump will not grow. This task takes more time so consider hiring a professional with digging equipment for this job.

Here’s how to remove a tree stump from the ground:

  • Dig around the stump, trying to expose as many roots as possible.
  • Digging through roots can be difficult work. Of course, this is why you need to use a chainsaw or hatchet to cut through large roots. You may find that small roots are easy enough to get rid of using clippers or loppers.
  • Once you have cut the roots around a stump, remove it by lifting it out of the ground.
  • Once the hole is filled with dirt, cover it with topsoil or mulch.

Note: This process can take hours to complete, depending on the size of the tree stump and the root structure.

Use Fire To Kill A Tree Stump

embers visible in the middle of a tree stump being safely burned in the garden

Add some kindling or kerosene to the stump and set it aflame with a lighter. This will destroy the tree but not completely remove its roots and stump from the ground.

Burning a tree stump may not be an option if you live in an area with a dry climate that’s prone to wildfires. Contact your local fire department to find out if the local authorities permit this type of burning.

Once you have permission to burn your tree stump, you can proceed in a few ways. One way is to drill holes into the trunk and pour kerosene into each hole; set fire to scrap wood on top of the surface and monitor it until it burns completely. This method will take longer but will heat those lower parts of the stump that are not reached by intense flames from above.

You can deepen the outside trenches of a tree stump by cutting criss-cross lines with a chainsaw. After the trench is five to six inches deep, pour some kindling on top and light it until it burns below ground level.

Remove A Tree Stump With A Chainsaw

chainsaws are placed on tree stumps and next to fallen trees

Chainsaws can cut through a wide variety of plants, but the blades must avoid contact with the soil when cutting tree stumps or tree branches. Take precautions in areas with heavy rocks or stones to prevent an inadvertent chain breakage.

Additionally, it is highly recommended that you wear safety equipment items such as a helmet, gloves, and trousers. With this in mind:

  • Carefully remove any dirt surrounding the stump with a shovel or pickaxe. You need room to swing without hitting the ground, so make sure there’s enough space cleared for your tools.
  • Begin at the base of the tree.
  • Place the blade inside and make an initial cut.
  • Please do not allow the blade to come out of the other side; it will hit against the soil.
  • Work your way around the stump to go in a complete circle, then just grab it and put it away.
  • Put soil back on the stump and over it.

This technique will keep the roots healthy, but it won’t result in a tree that is taller than the rest of your lawn. You should be able to drive over it with a lawnmower without damaging the machine.

Break Down Woody Material With Fertilizer

If you have a stump taking up valuable space in your yard but aren’t trying to grow back, add fertilizer to speed up decomposition.

Trying to remove a solid stump with the roots intact is nearly impossible. But once the wood begins to decompose, it softens, and you can remove it easily using a shovel or pickaxe. When this happens, lower roots will rot and become part of the soil.

The use of fertilizer on your stump will decompose it and attract organisms that help break down wooden material. The effects take some months to work but are most effective if the stump is not alive or aggressively emanating new growths.

What Are The Benefits Of Killing A Tree Stump?

The stumps of trees that have been cut often produce new shoots from both the trunk and roots, providing you with a new plant where you didn’t want one.

If the stump is completely dead, it’s not going to happen naturally. Root diseases can grow and remain hidden, so killing the tree stump and removing remains entirely will prevent growth.

How To Choose The Right Stump Killers

the tree stump on the cliff top is dramatically illuminated by the sunrise

When considering what product to use for your stump, there are many factors you should take into consideration. Here are some considerations:

Safety Reasons

One consideration that people often overlook is stumping. Unless the stump is eliminated in a specific way, it could lead to harming your lawn or plants surrounding the area. Even worse, misuse could make you sick or injure yourself.

Whenever you are working with chemicals on your lawn and garden, it is important to take care when handling them. Follow the instructions carefully and use protective gear such as gloves, protection for your eyes and mouth, long-sleeved clothing, and pants. Keep chemicals out of reach from children and pets, so they avoid injury.

These tips will guide you in the right direction when using any chemicals on your lawn, but it’s important to choose products that are less harmful to both the environment and your kids.

When choosing a stump killer, choose one that is supposed to work on both the roots and the top of the stump when it’s available.

If you need help getting rid of weeds or vines, make sure your chosen stump killer can handle these things before using them.

Consider Your Budget

As with any purchase, you need to consider your budget. Stump killers come at various prices, and some may be higher than others; however, price does not always reflect effectiveness.

Ease of Use

Once you’ve chosen the type of stump killer, you’ll need to consider maintenance. Consider products with instructions for application ease and quality.

While using any product, there is a degree of a learning curve before applying it properly on stumps. However, with good instruction, this task is not too difficult.


It can be easy to find a chemical that will kill all the stumps, but it’s important to find an efficient one. Not only does this mean efficiency in terms of chemicals until age, but also in how they are applied.

It is important to read reviews to get a sense of how the product will work on your lawn.

Type Of Stump Killer

When buying a stump killer, consider what type of use you’ll be getting out of it. Some are only good for one-time use, while others can be used multiple times. Consider these factors when you buy so there won’t be any confusion in the future.

How Long Does It Take To Kill A Tree Stump?

tree stumps in the garden are undergoing a natural process of decay

It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks for a tree stump to be killed by using chemicals and other ingredients, depending on the type of tree. The environment also plays a role in the decomposition time. Pine trees, for instance, will take less time than hickory to decompose because pine is a softwood, and hickory is hard.

The result of chemical treatments should be the stump looking decomposed, with a sponge-like appearance. You can transform it into pieces if this is the case. If not, use more chemicals and wait for 2-3 weeks until all your stumps are decomposed completely.

What Not To Do

glass of water and orange slices on a tree stump in the garden

When removing a tree stump, it’s best to avoid these. Doing so could damage nearby plants.

Avoid Killing Tree Stumps With Diesel

Diesel is very popular among tree stump burners. Diesel doesn’t explode like gasoline, but it won’t produce a steady, long-lasting burn.

As a chemical compound, diesel should have similar effects on tree stumps. The Epsom salt method is recommended for the best results.

Avoid Killing Tree Stumps With Bleach

Be careful when using bleach on your plants. The danger is greater than the benefits of part-time use, and it can also cause damage to desirable trees if buried in the soil.

Applying a high bleach concentration to the area may damage adjacent plants, such as perennials, shrubs, and grass. It could also increase soil pH significantly.

There are many ways to remove stumps, but the most successful technique relies on your efforts first. Which of these methods do you prefer?

Avoid Killing Tree Stumps With Motor Oil

There is no good reason for homeowners to use motor oil rather than marketing products like stump killer when killing a tree stump. Plus, it costs about the same as any market-available product – and is less messy and quick-acting.

Kill Tree Stump FAQs

the tree stump in the middle of the garden in autumn overgrown with mushrooms

Why Do We Have To Cut Down Tree Stumps?

It could provide a draw for parasites that have the potential to spread to other trees, or it might pose an obstacle in a construction project.

Can We Kill A Tree Stump With Herbicide?

Yes, but it would pollute the groundwater so deeply that the soil would be unusable for a long time.

Is Epsom Salt Suitable As A General Herbicide?

Yes, it is just as effective but not carcinogenic as Roundup. You might need to have a lot of it on hand to get the job done; however, it won’t leave your wallet empty dry either.

How To Kill A Tree Stump Near A Lake Or Creek?

You might find it more difficult to remove slugs since they have access to extra water and nutritious material. In addition, you should use a natural method for removing them so that you don’t contaminate the soil. If you want an easy solution, consider using a tractor – most stumps can be removed in just a few minutes with this equipment.

How To Remove A Tree With Massive Roots Like A Japanese Maple?

Hire a professional or commit to a large project.

In Essence

The stump can be removed with either of the above methods. If time isn’t a factor, the DIY technique is recommended, but they should rent or hire the machine to remove it as quickly as possible.

Looking to purchase more trees for your yard? We recommend checking out Fast Growing Trees, a one-stop-shop with a wide selection of plants and the ability to get them delivered straight to your doorstep.

Leave a Reply